Direct Mail Tips & Insights

Emotions act first

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Everyone knows the central goal of all advertising efforts is to persuade the prospect to act on your appeal to them and buy into your product, service or cause. Persuasion seems as if it should be simple, right? Simply explain the benefits of your product and your prospect should want to purchase. If only it were this simple. Research shows our brains don’t take decision-making quite so lightly—they make decisions in a much more complex manner.

The human brain is comprised of two main decision-processing stations. The first station is referred to by researchers as the “First Brain” or what is commonly knows as our Limbic System. The Limbic System is the root of our primary emotions, such as survival instincts, desires and self-protection. This system is the first stop on the road to decision-making.

The second station in our brain is referred to as the “New Brain” or the Cerebrum and Cerebral Cortex. The Cerebral Cortex is responsible for organizing, retaining, communicating, learning and creating. In short, this is the root of our logic. This system is the second stop in our decision-making process.

As a message travels through the brain, it is stopped at the emotional First Brain before it is allowed to proceed through to the logical New Brain. Many advertisers make the mistake of thinking that a logical presentation of information will sell their product, however this brain model refutes this thinking. In order for your message to be processed logically, it must first be processed emotionally. Credibility is the secret to getting through the gate-keeping, emotional First Brain.

Credibility basically translates to trust, and transparency and like-ability are two key factors in building trust. If your brand and promotion are transparent and honest in nature and presented in a like-able manner, they are likely to be allowed through to the logical brain. Less like-able brands and shady promotion tactics will always be questioned at the gate-keeping First Brain station, and will require more information before these messages are allowed to proceed.Over all, this research shows that we base our initial response to messaging on our emotional reactions, and support these reactions with logical information evaluated by our logical minds. When creating your next mail campaign, be sure to keep this in mind. Create your promotions to be honest, transparent and like-able, and you will be able to connect with and persuade your audience much easier.This post is based on information presented in the book, Design for Response: Creative Direct Marketing that Works, by Leslie H. Sherr and David J. Katz.

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